Saturday, July 28, 2007

Film Breakdown - Drama - Fresh (1994)


1. 1:33 - Opening credits. Ends: 0:01:33

2. 2:45 - A young boy makes his way through an urban city street. He is welcomed into an apartment of a hispanic lady who has something for him. She bundles some packets (drugs?) into a piece of newspaper and hands it to the boy. Without opening it he complains that the agreement was for “half a brick“, namely twenty packets. The boy is called Michael (Sean Nelson) and he’s been told by Esteban to take a half-brick to Chillis immediately; he’s already late for school. The lady looks around on her kitchen counter and finds a packet she inadvertently missed. Ends: 0:04:18


3. 1:38 - The boy next enters a different dwelling, this time containing a host of women sorting through more drugs. He tells one of them that he has to pickup five bricks but it’s obvious they’re not ready yet. An older teenage boy sits by a desk containing a scale - he calls Michael ”Little Fresh“ but Michael tells him his tag is only to be used by his friends. The older teenager tells everyone in the room that the only reason Michael is doing an important job is because Esteban is sweet on his sister - this angers Michael who protectively challenges the boy... who then backs down when he witnesses Michael’s determination. Ends: 0:05:56

4. 1:15 - Michael makes his way over to yet another location where a character called Chillie who very slowly counts the packets that Michael has delivered. Michael is anxious and wants to get going - he’s real late for school. Ends: 0:07:11

5. 1:58 - Michael stands in his classroom, interrogated by a teacher in front of the whole class about his tardiness. As Michael moves to put his books into a locker, one of the drug packets falls to the floor of the classroom. Unseen by anyone else, Michael quickly moves to hide the drugs in his backpack. Ends: 0.09:09

6. 1:06 - In the school gym, Michael and others from his class play basketball. After the game they all descend on the school auditorium where some school girls are practicing their cheerleading. Ends: 0:10:15

7. 4:38 - Out in the school yard, more school kids jump rope while some school boys sit and trash talk while playing with baseball cards. Fresh sits with the other boys but quietly observes some of the girls. He finally walks over to talk to one of them, a girl called Rosie. They talk about each other’s families and compare what that they would do if they each had money. Fresh is excited about cars but Rosie tells him he’ll never have money anyway... Fresh disagrees and says that ”someday he’ll have it“. Ends: 0:14:53


8. 1:48 - Dissolve to an abandoned rail track during the day where Fresh walks cautiously and once he’s sure that he’s alone, he reaches into a secret hiding place and removes a rusty can containing hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in one big, rolled-up mass. He adds the few bills he’s earned today (from Chillie earlier) and puts the whole lot back into its hiding place. Later, he observes the NYC skyline while eating a candy bar. Ends: 0:16:41

9. 3:20 - Michael makes his way over to an apartment block and lets himself into an apartment full of people (mostly children). Michael makes his way over to his bedroom; he appears to be sharing that room with at least two others. Elsewhere in the home, Michael’s sister Nichole (N’Bushe Wright) is packing to leave; Michael would like her to stay but she’s getting too old to share the room & the crowded apartment with the others. She packs her things and leaves without saying goodbye to Michael. Ends: 0:20:01

10. 1:08 - Michael lies alone on his bed in the dark, wide awake and staring at the moving shadows on his ceiling. One of the older girls - a cousin - comes into his room and admonishes him for coming home so late. She tells Michael that she’ll kill him if their Aunt gets fed-up with worrying & looking after Michael and gets rid of all the kids. Ends: 0:21:09

11. 1:14 - Fade to white and then we’re back with Michael sitting on an abandoned car in a rough neighborhood during the day. It’s obvious that he’s a lookout and runner for a young gang of drug peddlers. Michael sells drugs to the occupant of a car that pulls up; he argues with a pregnant woman who is indignant at the $5 asking price; he slaps a woman who offers him sex in return for the opportunity to talk to his boss. Ends: 0:22:23

12. 2:51 - Michael walks up to - and tries to communicate with - an older thug called Jake (Jean LaMarre) who is upset at having to wait for someone who owes him $50... it’s getting late and there’s little likelihood of his showing up. Jake is incensed. Ends: 0:25:14

13. 1:44 - Michael approaches Jake’s boss Corky (Ron Brice) for his earnings; says that Jake was angry again and he’s not about to try and get paid when he’s crazy like that. Corky tries to shortchange Michael but he’s having none of it - he’s owed $100 for his work that day... he gets his $100. Ends: 0:26:58

14. 4:55 - Michael takes the subway to a park where hustlers play speed chess for cash. Michael challenges one of the players and wins. He then makes his way over to another table where Sam (Samuel L. Jackson) sits. Sam is Michael’s dad and is a bit of a dichotomy; he plays chess brilliantly but drinks liquor out of a bottle in a brown paper bag. He talks to Michael about not squandering time but sits at his table reading a newspaper. Michael loses his game of chess to Sam, primarily because Michael (he is told by Sam) isn’t always thinking about the smartest moves to make. Ends: 0:31:53


15. 1:00 - Michael and his friends walk through the urban sprawl. They talk about comics, super-heroes and guns. Ends: 0:32:53

16. 1:41 - Michael’s best friend Chuckie (Luis Lantigua) boasts of having ”trained“ their pit bull dog Roscoe to fight. Michael tells him they all found Roscoe and he’s not going to be fighting. Chuckie tells him he wants some cash - unlike Michael (who he accuses of hoarding his cash), Chuckie doesn’t have any because Michael won’t help him get a job with Esteban. Michael tells him he acts like a little kid and won’t get Esteban to give him a job. Ends: 0:34:34

17. 5:08 - Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito) is at home tending to his kids at dinner time. Michael is there at Esteban’s behest and sits quietly while Esteban deals with his wife and children. Esteban admonishes him for having left for school the other day when he wanted to talk to him; furthermore, that he appears to have enough time to work for Corky dealing rocks. Corky is clearly a rival of Esteban’s but Michael explains that Corky has work every day while Esteban only has a need for hired hands once a week. Esteban understands but warns Michael that anyone who deals rocks of crack cocaine is usually dead within three to five years; that’s the nature of that business. Smack is Esteban’s trade, as heroin has a different client base, a ”gentleman’s operation“ where clients are stable and peace-loving. Michael returns the packet to Esteban that accidentally fell out of his backpack at school - Estaban laughs and admires Michael’s honesty... he also tells Michael that his sister is ‘fine” and asks if she’s going out with anybody. Michael lies and says their Aunt won’t let Nichole out of the house. Ends: 0:39:42


18. 3:02 - Michael makes his way over to a general store and asks to speak to Nichole. She is hanging with a local hood named James and Michael tells Nichole that Esteban is looking for her. She tells him that she doesn’t like the way Esteban looks at her - she’s nothing special and nobody loves her. Michael says he loves her. Ends: 0:42:44

19. 3:56 - A crowded Basketball court during the day finds Michael and Chuckie hanging out watching the older guys play. Michael doesn’t want to play ball with Chuckie and it turns out this is because he’d rather watch Rosie and the other girls play nearby. Two of Corky’s men are involved in the game, including the volatile Jake. When Jake unsuccessfully defends the basket from a skillful player, Jake feels dissed & responds the only way he knows how... by shooting the player dead. Unfortunately, so many bullets are flying from Jake’s gun, he shoots Rosie in the throat and she dies in Michael’s arms. Everyone else on the court flees. Ends: 0:46:40

20. 0:40 - The police extricate Michael’s hand from Rosie’s throat where he was helping her stop the flow of blood escaping from her gunshot wound. Back at the police station, Lt. Perez tries to get Michael to cooperate... to tell them whatever it was he saw. Michael denies he saw anything. Ends: 0:47:20

21. 0:18 - Michael’s Aunt takes him back to the apartment, where she runs him a bath and he cleans himself up (he’s covered in Rosie’s blood). Later, Michael lays in bed naked and we fade to black. Ends: 0:47:38

22. 7:16 - Sam and Michael play a game of chess in Sam’s usual table in the park. Michael is clearly distracted and Sam is irritable that Michael is not playing his best game. Sam tells him to not play like every piece matters - everything there is just a means to an end... Michael is protecting his queen whereas (Sam says) she’s just a pawn with a lot of fancy moves - nothing more. Sam tells him to threaten his opponent’s queen whenever he can because doing so will distract the other player from Michael’s real move. Michael must be paying attention because for the first time in their playing against each other, Michael checks Sam though Sam eventually wins anyway. Sam invites him to his place and Michael reluctantly agrees (he’s not supposed to be seen with Sam). They hang out for a while. Ends: 0:54:54

23. 3:08 - Michael and Chuckie are at a dog fight; a lot of gambling is taking place. Their dog Roscoe looks too friendly and Michael clearly worries that he’ll get hurt. Chuckie meanwhile is oblivious - he’s bad mouthing the opposition and playing up Roscoe like he’s a destined to be a champ. Michael spots the psychotic Jake in the crowd ad the two eye each other. Once the competition starts, the pit bulls are released and begin their fight. Chuckie’s $20 savings could turn into some much needed cash for him at 5:1 odds. To Michael’s bittersweet relief, Roscoe overpowers the other dog and kills him. They’ve created a monster in Roscoe and he’s now got the taste of blood. Michael tells Chuckie that Roscoe won’t be fighting any more; instead he’s got a plan that will bring them stupid dollars. Ends: 0:58:02

24. 0:44 - Michael assembles a chess board in his room and tells the others not to touch his game. He surveys the pieces and makes his first move. Ends: 0:58:46


25. 4:08 - Michael takes Chuckie over to Esteban’s house. While waiting to speak to him, Michael sees Esteban having sex with his sister Nichole; it is obvious she’s high on drugs. Esteban appears grateful that Michael had some involvement in bringing Nichole back to him. Esteban asks them to wait in another room. Later, Chuckie poses against a wall wanting to make an impression on Esteban. Michael tells him he looks ridiculous. Esteban eventually comes in and interviews Chuckie, who mutters some inane street talk that doesn’t impress Esteban at all. Once they’re alone, Esteban tells Fresh that he’s giving him this big job because nobody will expect the mode of transportation to be a kid. Outside, Fresh tells Chuckie that Esteban was very impressed (a lie) and that Chuckie’s on the payroll. Ends: 1:02:54

26. 2:18 - Michael goes to an old warehouse alone to talk to someone called Hector. Hector is reluctant to sell Michael the cocaine base he’s asking for, ostensibly for Corky. Hector wants to know why Corky didn’t send one of his men for the drugs. Michael lies and says the cops are watching them because of what Jake did on the basketball courts. All his men are being followed and his phone lines tapped... that is why Michael is here in person to deal with Hector. Michael opens up his backpack and secretly removes his stash of cash, pretending this payment for the “base“ is from Corky. Hector is pleased to be dealing with cash and tells Michael he’ll have the drugs ready later. Ends: 1:05:12

27. 2:22 - Back at the school play yard, Chuckie can’t keep his big mouth shut. He’s blabbing to everyone how he’s in with the influential crowd (ie. Esteban) and he’s making tons of cash. He’s even acquired his own posse who follow him around everywhere. Michael’s other friends warn him about Chuckie - that he’s blabbing about moving ”base“ for Esteban when everyone knows Esteban doesn’t deal with those drugs - that’s Corky’s turf. Ends: 1:07:34

28. 1:54 - Michael and Chuckie make their way over to a used book store and pickup their drugs that have come through from Hector. The drugs are hidden in children’s text books. They put the books in their backpacks. Later, they’re both on the subway and Chuckie is acting immature - he has words with a cop and only Michael’s polite talk saves them both from taking a ride down to the precinct. Outside the train station, Chuckie is upset that Michael dissed him in front of the cop - Michael in turn tells him he’s acting stupid to be calling attention to himself like that. As they move away, it is obvious they’re being followed by a vehicle (Corky’s men?). Ends: 1:09:28

29. 2:30 - Michael notices they’re being followed and ducks into an alley. He insists that Chuckie surrender his backpack and keep a lookout... meanwhile Michael enters an abandoned building an pries open some floorboards. Under the floorboards are bags of something that look like the drugs in the textbooks... Michael swaps them all out and hides the real ”base“ under the floorboards. Chuckie stands outside with a loaded gun he’s purchased from somewhere. Ends: 1:11:58

30. 1:10 - Michael and Chuckie resume their walk when suddenly they’re confronted by the men in the car that’s been following them. Michael makes a run for it but stops when he realizes that Chuckie has drawn his weapon and takes a shot at the men. Michael had clearly stated to drop the backpacks if they were jumped. Missing his target (assuming he had a target), Chuckie runs and drops his weapon by the tire of a nearby car. When he tries to reach for it, a stray bullet hits the tire, the car collapses and the full weight pins him down by his hand. Michael is forced to abandon him and run for his life. Once Michael has left, the men descend on Chuckie and shoot him dead. Ends: 1:13:08

31. 0:27 - Montage. Michael is running for his life all the way home. Dissolving throughout his run are images from the urban landscape. Ends: 1:13:35

32. 1:54 - Michael is back at the police station and being questioned by two detectives. Lt. Perez gives Michael his home number, tells him he can call any time. Michael sticks to his story that they were simply on their way home when they were jumped. Ends: 1:15:29

33. 1:18 - Michael’s Aunt has had enough and wants Michael out of the house. It’s simply too dangerous now for all the other eleven kids to have Michael stay there - he’s now been involved somehow with two homicides and his cousins are afraid to step out of the home. Ends: 1:16:47

34. 0:29 - Michael is attacked at school by one of his friends who feels it’s Michael’s fault that Chuckie was murdered. Ends: 1:17:16

35. 1:41 - Michael walks Roscoe over to the abandoned buildings where he hid the drugs. He strings the dog up by its neck using the leash tied to a fire escape ladder. Michael then enters the building through a window and retrieves a gun. Once back outside, he shoots Roscoe three times at point-blank range and kills the dog. Ends: 1:18:57

36. 1:30 - Back in his room, Michael moves a chess piece on the game he’s playing against himself. Outside his home, an ominous-looking car waits in the street... Corky’s men. Once Michael steps outside, they man-handle him into the car and drive off. Ends: 1:20:27

37. 6:56 - Corky is interrogating Michael in an abandoned warehouse; he reveals the stolen textbooks and asks Michael if he knows what was in the books? Michael feigns ignorance. Corky confirms it is ”base“ and resents Esteban horning in on his business... he’ll need to be sent a message and little Fresh is going to be his telegram. He picks up a chain and makes a move to beat Michael with it. Michael then reveals that he was not running ”base“ for Esteban... he was doing it for Jake! Corky is stopped in his tracks and Jake reacts - he has no idea what is going on. Jake’s friend comes to his rescue to confirm his innocence but Michael’s story is so convincing that Corky assaults both of them on Michael’s say-so. Once they’re incapacitated, Michael reveals that Jake’s distributor is James. Ends: 1:27:23

38. 4:26 - Michael makes his way over to Esteban’s business location. Esteban wants to know why he hasn’t been around since Chuckie’s murder - Michael claims the police were watching his home. Esteban wants to know who jumped Michael... Michael reveals it was Corky’s boys (truth) but it’s because Corky is tired of dealing ”base“ cocaine and wants to muscle in on Esteban’s ”smack“ heroin trade. Esteban and his men believe Michael but Esteban wants to know how Michael knows all of this... Michael reveals he was told by his sister Nichole. Esteban fights hard to control his anger but wants to know more. Michael spins a yarn that Nichole was holed up with James (truth) and that James has been dealing Smack out of his store (supplied by Corky, whose ambitions are to eliminate Esteban). Michael verbally tortures Estaban by revealing that James treats Nichole ”nice and nasty“. Ends: 1:31:49

39. 3:45 - Esteban and his men watch James’ grocery store at night as Corky and his men arrive. Remember Corky believes James to have been Jake’s distributor. Esteban believes what he’s seeing confirms Michael story of collusion between the two... he orders his men to attack the grocery store. Corky’s men are shot and killed by Esteban’s men. Esteban then makes his way upstairs and interrogates James. Nichole’s clothing is still in his apartment, further confirming Michael’s (false) story to Esteban. James is shot and killed by Esteban and Michael has made a point to be immediately outside to witness it. The gang come back outside and all but one escape by car before the police arrive. Ends: 1:35:54


40. 3:51 - The weapons used in the grocery store killings are hidden in a secret car door compartment. Esteban is dropped off at an apartment where he has Nichole stashed. He orders his men in the car to take Michael home and to dump the weapons where they won’t be found. The car takes off and alone in the back, Michael rummages around in his backpack near the secret car door compartment. Michael then demands that the car be stopped and to be let out. Michael returns to Esteban’s apartment and waits outside until he knows he’ll be alone with Nichole. Once the coast is clear, Michael makes a phone call to someone. Ends: 1:39:45

41. 5:57 - Esteban opens his apartment’s front door to see Michael standing there (claims he cannot go home). Inside, Esteban confronts Nichole about James - she’s defiant and claims she can see whoever she wants. Esteban tells her that is no-longer the case. The front door bell rings and Esteban leaves the room to answer the door... it’s the police! While everyone is distracted, Michael moves over to the bed and removes something from his backpack... Nichole witnesses him putting something under the bed or the mattress. The police enter the room and it is Lt. Perez and others with a warrant to search the premises - seems they had a tip-off that there was a domestic disturbance in the apartment. Esteban scoffs at the claim and tells them to get out... Michael now pipes-up and claims Esteban threatened to kill Nichole and murdered James and others at the Grocery store that very night. As proof, Michael claims Esteban stashed some stuff under the bed. The cops search under the bed and remove an incriminating gun and all of Hector’s ”base“. Esteban is hauled away but he and Michael lock eyes on each other as we fade to black. Ends: 1:45:42

42. 0:58 - Lt. Perez questions Michael about what he saw happen that night. He tells Michael that if he testifies, he’ll be taken away from the projects and put under protection. Michael insists that his sister Nichole goes with him and is covered under the same deal. Michael’s game is over and he has won. Ends: 1:46:40


43. 2:09 - Michael makes his way over to Sam’s chess game in the park. It is probably their final game. Ends: 1:48:49

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